Philadelphia PD officer shot/killed.
Dragnet for Gunman Who Killed Officer During Bar Robbery
KYW Newsradio Team Coverage
Philadelphia police have released surveillance video from the scene of a bar robbery in Northeast Philadelphia during which a responding police officer was shot and killed.
Chief inspector Joseph Fox describes the man captured on tape:
"He's about 6' to 6' 2" tall, slender build, 25 to 35 years old, light to medium complected. He was wearing a dark New York Yankees baseball cap, a dark blue jacket with light colored shoulders and sleeves, and he possibly had (what) appears to be red lettering or some kind of a design across the chest of that jacket, and also wearing dark pants."
Police officials say that they wanted to get the surveillance photos into the public eye as soon as possible, and were therefore warning that the color of some of the photos was not correct: what appeared to be an aquamarine jacket was in fact darker blue.
KYW's Suzanne Monaghan reports that 46-year-old officer Gary Skerski and his partner responded to the robbery call around 10pm Monday at Pat's Café, in the 4600 block of Castor Avenue, near Arrott and Adams Avenues. Skerski (right, in file photo) was shot in the neck as he entered the bar through a rear door.
He was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police commissioner Sylvester Johnson says neither Skerski nor his partner fired their weapons.
Skerski was a 16-year veteran of the force. He is survived by his wife and two children.
KYW's Tony Hanson reports that one robbery victim who was among those inside the bar believes the slain officer and his partner saved their lives.
John Schaffer (right) says there were about a dozen people, men and women, inside Pat’s Café when the robber entered:
"The knucklehead came in the bar with a shotgun and a ski mask on, and said, 'This is not Halloween, motherf---er.' Then everyone at the bar more or less... If you got any brains you listen to the guy, you know what I mean? And that was that. He sent a black bag around and told everyone to put their money into it and then emptied the register into it."
Schaffer says the robber pointed guns at their heads and forced one victim to withdraw money from an ATM.
But another victim, inside a bathroom, called police. And as officer Gary Skerski and his partner arrived, Shaffer says, the robber bolted to the back door. There was gunfire. Then moments later, Shaffer says, he saw the mortally wounded officer being carried away by other police officers.
KYW's Mark Abrams reports that well over 100 police officers on foot, on bicycle, and on dirt bikes were scouring an area of several blocks around the crime scene, looking for any evidence in connection with this police shooting.
They were going through yards, looking under bushes, and rooting through trash cans for anything that might help them solve this shooting. The search expanded into Northwood Park and two local cemeteries.
Joe lives a block away from Pat's Cafe. He says he heard a loud boom on Monday night and went to see what was happening:
"And then there was, 'Kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom!' It sounded like, maybe seven times. I didn't hear any return fire from the police officers, and the response time was really bad, because we were sticking our heads out the window. You could smell the powder in the air."
Officers have questioned many people including witnesses from the neighborhood. Currently, police believe there was only one shooter.
Police think the murderer may have been standing outside Pat's Café on Castor Avenue for up to a half-hour before the 10pm robbery attempt. They are asking anyone who may have seen him or can help identify him to call the Philadelphia Police Department's homicide unit at 215-686-3334.
KYW's Steve Tawa reports that in the minutes after the officer's shooting Monday night, there was a revealing snapshot of how many guns are on the streets of Philadelphia.
Police commissioner Sylvester Johnson says officers made four or five car stops based on information coming in, and officers confiscated six guns.
NOTE: The people carrying these guns probably aren't your usual responsible gun owner/2A/CCW types that you'll run into at your local range, if you know what I mean. Philly PD has been getting into multiple shootings a week lately.
Johnson says if his officers are confronted with a weapon, they have a split second to make a life-or-death decision, but Officer Skerski didn't have a chance to fire his weapon.
He says "the guns are on the street," and before people criticize officers for using deadly force they should "walk in an officer's footsteps."
In the commissioner's words, "We still have a cop killer out there," and he's asking for the public's help in catching up with the armed man.